This game will be remembered as one of the most disappointing and frustrating losses in Boston sports history. First of all, the contest was avoidable.
Last Sunday the Patriots were staring at a potential bye. All they had to do was defeat the Miami Dolphins. The 4-11 Miami Dolphins. With the game being played in Gillette, everyone assumed New England would take care of business.
However, behind 320 yards from Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami upset New England 27-24. So the Patriots would be hosting the Tennessee Titans over Wild Card Weekend.
The hair pulling, teeth grinding nerves would start early on in Foxborough, when the Patriots settled for a 36 yard Nick Folk field goal on their first drive. The Titans would immediately respond on their first possession with a touchdown from Anthony Firkser.
There were many reasons why the Titans beat the Patriots on Saturday. Derrick Henry was unstoppable. He piled up 182 yards on the ground on 34 carries. His touchdown run gave Tennessee the lead they would never relinquish.
The Patriots failed to capitalize on a Ryan Tannehill interception at the start of the 4th quarter. Not to mention, New England was unable to jump on either loose ball Tennessee coughed up.
The always reliable Julian Edelman dropped a would be first down with 3:26 to go in the game. New England failed to get off the field with 2:54 left in regulation.
However, the area that has stymied the Patriots offense all season reared its ugly head again. The Red Zone play was brutal for Tom Brady and the offense.
The Patriots were able to muster three scoring drives in the first half, but only managed 13 points. Their loan touchdown was a jet-sweep by Edelman the first play of the 2nd quarter.
The sequence everyone will remember started with 4:29 remaining in the first half. A 12 yard catch and run from Rex Burkhead left New England with 1st and goal from the 1.
Sony Michel tried to punch it in and ended up losing a yard. After surveying Tennessee’s defense, Brady used a timeout.
It then looked like Rex Burkhead was going to hit pay dirt before two Titans swallowed him at the 1 yard line. Brady then studied the defense again before spending their 2nd timeout.
On 3rd and goal from the 1, Sony Michel tried to burst through the left side but was stuffed and lost two yards. After taking two timeouts and running three times from the 1, Josh McDaniels failed to call the right play. Nick Folk drilled the chip shot field goal to give New England a 13-7 lead. However, it felt like the Titans stole momentum at the 1 yard line.
While kicking the field goal sure left a sour taste in Patriot fans’ mouths, the fact is they still had a 13-7 lead. The Titans had been ineffective since their touchdown drive. As long as the Titans did not march down and finish with a touchdown, the Patriots would have the lead at half time.
(Part 1 of 2)
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones